Even though I should have known from The Recognitions that the world was not waiting breathlessly for my message, that it already knew, and was quite happy to live with all these false values, I’d always been intrigued by the charade of the so-called free market, so-called free enterprise system, the stock market conceived of as what was called a “people’s capitalism” where you “owned a part of the company” and so forth. All of which is true; you own shares in a company, so you literally do own part of the assets. But if you own a hundred shares out of six or sixty or six hundred million, you’re not going to influence things very much. Also, the fact that people buy securities—the very word in this context is comic—not because they are excited by the product—often you don’t know what the company makes—but simply for profit: The stock looks good and you buy it. The moment it looks bad you sell it. What had actually happened in the company is not your concern. In many ways I thought . . . the childishness of all this. Because JR himself, which is why he is eleven years old, is motivated only by good-natured greed. JR was, in other words, to be a commentary on this free enterprise system running out of control. Looking around us now with a two-trillion-dollar federal deficit and billions of private debt and the banks, the farms, basic industry all in serious trouble, it seems to have been rather prophetic.
William Gaddis, born ninety-three years ago today, in a 1986 interview. For boatloads of excerpts click the Gaddis tag.
Clearly from this and similar eloquent testimony certain members of the community have been subjected to annoyance and serious inconvenience in the pursuit of private errands of some urgency, however, recalling to mind that vain and desperate effort to prevent construction of a subway kiosk in Cambridge, Massachusetts, enshrined decades ago in the news headlines PRESIDENT LOWELL FIGHTS ERECTION IN HARVARD SQUARE, by definition the interests of the general public must not be confused with that of one or even several individuals (People v. Brooklyn & Queens Transit Corp., 258 App. Div. 753, 15 N.Y.S.2d 295, 1939, affirmed 283 N.Y. 484, 28 N.E.2d 925, 1940).
- Gaddis, Frolic of His Own
Put on the lights there, now. Before we go any further here, has it ever occurred to any of you that all this is simply one grand misunderstanding? Since you're not here to learn anything, but to be taught so you can pass these tests, knowledge has to be organized so it can be taught, and it has to be reduced to information so it can be organized do you follow that? In other words this leads you to assume that organization is an inherent property of knowledge itself, and that disorder and chaos are simply irrelevant forces that threaten it from outside. In fact it's exactly the opposite. Order is simply a thin, perilous condition we try to impose on the basic reality of chaos...
- Gaddis, JR
- No, I never owned Hawkwind records, I never owned Motorhead records. I don't mind either, I like when I hear, but I was never of faith. I do know the death of Lemmy needs noting.
- The very same people who are blaming Tamir Rice for his own murder - as a young black male he should know better than carry a toy gun - are the same people who (arm their white children) would call black parents who teach their children to fear white policemen black racists.
- And proclaim loyalty to Trump, who is not a fascist (?) but a barker of spite, because they think it pisses you off.
- The birth of propaganda.
- The battle for justice in Palestine comes to Santa Fe.
- Silicon Valley and neoliberalism.
- Notes on inventing the future.
- White sustenance.
- Eternal youth.
- Let me jinx myself: I am concurrently rereading JR and reading Vollmann's latest, The Dying Grass. I read twenty pages of one then twenty pages of the other. I am 200 pages into both. Today is a Gaddis day, not by design (I don't memorize these birthdays, I look them up the night before) but serendipity. There are similarities: both are concerned with rapacious capitalism and imperialism and the shitty natural greed of humans; both are written almost entirely in dialogue with no direct attribution to the speaker - I have to know who is speaking, there are no he saids, John saids, Mary saids. I have never tried an experiment like this, it has been working, though with this bullet I'm certain to have fucked that up.
I know you, I know you. You're the only serious person in the room, aren't you, the only one who understands, and you can prove it by the fact that you've never finished a single thing in your life. You're the only well-educated person, because you never went to college, and you resent education, you resent social ease, you resent good manners, you resent success, you resent any kind of success, you resent God, you resent Christ, you resent thousand-dollar bills, you resent Christmas, by God, you resent happiness, you resent happiness itself, because none of that's real. What is real, then? Nothing's real to you that isn't part of your own past, real life, a swamp of failures, of social, sexual, financial, personal...spiritual failure. Real life. You poor bastard. You don't know what real life is, you've never been near it. All you have is a thousand intellectualized ideas about life. But life? Have you ever measured yourself against anything but your own lousy past? Have you ever faced anything outside yourself? Life! You poor bastard.
- Gaddis, Recognitions